A Fish Out of Water

For some, learning to swim is a simple process. Most swimming instructors believe anyone can learn the basics of swimming within a couple of hours. Occasionally, life's traumatic experiences get in the way.

"Most adults who don't swim had some sort of bad experience as a child," said Lisa Barnes, of the Amarillo YMCA. "Whether it's falling in the water or being taught to swim by being thrown in the pool to fend for yourself, it can be very traumatic to deal with."

Barnes has been teaching the young and old to swim for over 20 years. Mark Twain once said he never met a man he didn't like. When it comes to helping others to swim, Lisa has never met someone she could not teach to at least survive in the water.

"Treading water is the constant movement of the hands and feet in a circular motion," said Barnes. "I can have you floating today. I promise, you're going to tread today."

I have not been in a pool and underwater since the 1980's. Because of a traumatic swimming experience as a child, I became comfortable with staying away from the water, while family and friends enjoyed the perks of being in pools on hot San Antonio summer days. Lisa offered to teach me how to tread water and begin to swim. I accepted.

Less than 20 minutes after being in the YMCA pool, and submerging for the first time since being baptized at age 14, I learned how to tread water. Within an hour, Lisa taught me the basic steps and motions to swim the width of the pool. Although I was a long way from being the next Michael Phelps, I was excited and felt as though I had made tremendous progress in embracing the water and moving toward becoming a functional swimmer.